Etymology
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near (adv.)

Old English near "closer, nearer," comparative of neah, neh"nigh." Partially by the influence of Old Norse naer "near," it came to be used in English as a positive form mid-13c., and new comparative nearer developed in the 1500s (see nigh). Originally an adverb but now supplanted in most such senses by nearly; it has in turn supplanted correct nigh as an adjective.

The adjectival use dates from c. 1300, "being close by, not distant;" from late 14c. as "closely related by kinship;" 1610s as "economical, parsimonious." Colloquial use for "so as to barely escape injury or danger" (as in a near thing, near miss) is by 1751. As a preposition, "close to, close by, near in space or time," from mid-13c. Related: Nearness. In near and dear (1620s) it refers to nearness of kinship. Near East is by 1894 (probably based on Far East). Near beer "low-alcoholic brew" is from 1908.

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bully (n.)

1530s, "sweetheart," a term of endearment applied to either sex, of uncertain origin; perhaps from Dutch boel "lover; brother," which probably is a diminutive of Middle Dutch broeder "brother" (compare Middle High German buole "brother," source of German Buhle "lover;" see brother (n.)).

Meaning deteriorated 17c. through "fine fellow" and "blusterer" to "harasser of the weak" (1680s, from bully-ruffian, 1650s). Perhaps this was by influence of bull (n.1), but a connecting sense between "lover" and "ruffian" might be "protector of a prostitute," which was one sense of bully (though it is not specifically attested until 1706). "Sweetheart" words often go bad in this way; compare leman, also ladybird, which in Farmer and Henley ("Slang and Its Analogues") is "1. A whore; and (2) a term of endearment." Shakespeare has bully-rook "jolly comrade."

The adjective meaning "worthy, jolly, admirable" is first attested 1680s, and preserves an earlier, positive sense of the word. It enjoyed a popularity in late 19c. American English, and was used from 1864 in expressions, such as bully for you! "bravo!"

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condescend (v.)

mid-14c., of God, a king., etc., "make gracious allowance" for human frailty, etc.; late 14c., "yield deferentially," from Old French condescendere (14c.) "to agree, consent, give in, yield, come down from one's rights or claims," and directly from Late Latin condescendere "to let oneself down, stoop," in Medieval Latin "be complaisant or compliant," from assimilated form of Latin com "with, together" (see con-) + descendere "to descend," literally "climb down," from de "down" (see de-) + scandere "to climb," from PIE root *skand- "jump" (see scan (v.)).

Sense of ""voluntarily waive ceremony or dignity proper to one's superior position or rank and willingly assume equality with inferiors" is from early 15c. Generally a positive word in Middle English; the modern, negative sense is from the notion of a mere show or assumed air of condescending (compare sense evolution in patronize). Also in Middle English "give one's consent; come to mutual agreement; make a concession."

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communism (n.)

1843, "social system based on collective ownership," from French communisme (c. 1840), from commun (Old French comun "common, general, free, open, public;" see common (adj.)) + -isme (see -ism).

Originally a theory of society. As the name of a political or economic  theory which rests upon the abolition of the right of private property, especially the means of production and distribution, and seeks the overthrow of capitalism by revolutions, it is attested from 1850, a translation of German Kommunismus (itself from French), in Marx and Engels' "Manifesto of the Communist Party." Compare communist

By 1919 and through mid-20c. it was a general a term of abuse for revolutionaries, implying anti-social criminality without regard to political theory.

Each [i.e. socialism, communism, anarchism] stands for a state of things, or a striving after it, that differs much from that which we know; & for many of us, especially those who are comfortably at home in the world as it is, they have consequently come to be the positive, comparative, & superlative, distinguished not in kind but in degree only, of the terms of abuse applicable to those who would disturb our peace. [Fowler]
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care (v.)

Old English carian, cearian "be anxious or solicitous; grieve; feel concern or interest," from Proto-Germanic *karo- "lament," hence "grief, care" (source also of Old Saxon karon "to lament, to care, to sorrow, complain," Old High German charon "complain, lament," Gothic karon "be anxious"), said to be from PIE root *gar- "cry out, call, scream" (source also of Irish gairm "shout, cry, call;" see garrulous).

If so, the prehistoric sense development is from "cry" to "lamentation" to "grief." A different sense evolution is represented in related Dutch karig "scanty, frugal," German karg "stingy, scanty." It is not considered to be related to Latin cura. Positive senses, such as "have an inclination" (1550s); "have fondness for" (1520s) seem to have developed later as mirrors to the earlier negative ones.

To not care as a negative dismissal is attested from mid-13c. Phrase couldn't care less is from 1946; could care less in the same sense (with an understood negative) is from 1955. Care also has figured since 1580s in many "similies of indifference" in the form don't care a _____, with the blank filled by fig, pin, button, cent, straw, rush, point, farthing, snap, etc., etc. Related: Cared; caring.

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meiosis (n.)

in biology, "division of a cell nucleus," 1905, from Greek meiosis "a lessening," from meioun "to lessen," from meion "less," from PIE root *mei- (2) "small."

Earlier (1580s) it was a rhetorical term, a figure of speech "weak or negative expression used for a positive and forcible one, so that it may be made all the more emphatic," as when one says "not bad" meaning "very good" or "don't mind if I do" meaning "I really would like to," or this example from "Mark Twain":

"YOUNG AUTHOR." — Yes Agassiz does recommend authors to eat fish, because the phosphorus in it makes brains. So far you are correct. But I cannot help you to a decision about the amount you need to eat,—at least, not with certainty. If the specimen composition you send is about your fair usual average, I should judge that perhaps a couple of whales would be all you would want for the present. Not the largest kind, but simply good, middling-sized whales.

 Related: meiotic; meiotically.

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creationism (n.)

1847, originally a Christian theological position that God immediately created out of nothing a soul for each person born; from creation + -ism.

As "science teaching based on a fundamentalist interpretation of the Book of Genesis, the scientific theory attributing the origin of matter and life to immediate acts of God," opposed to evolutionism, it is attested from 1880. Century Dictionary (1897) defines creationism in this sense as "The doctrine that matter and all things were created, substantially as they now exist, by the fiat of an omnipotent Creator, and not gradually evolved or developed."

Creation science is attested by 1970 as an alternative name for a theory of science not inconsistent with Christian fundamentalism. Creationist (n.) in an "anti-Darwin" sense is attested by 1859 in a letter of Darwin's, and it is said to be used in Darwin's unpublished writings as far back as 1842.

James Ussher (1581-1656), Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College in Dublin was highly regarded in his day as a churchman and as a scholar. Of his many works, his treatise on chronology has proved the most durable. Based on an intricate correlation of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean histories and Holy writ, it was incorporated into an authorized version of the Bible printed in 1701, and thus came to be regarded with almost as much unquestioning reverence as the Bible itself. Having established the first day of creation as Sunday 23 October 4004 B.C. ... Ussher calculated the dates of other biblical events, concluding, for example, that Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise on Monday 10 November 4004 BC, and that the ark touched down on Mt Ararat on 5 May 1491 BC "on a Wednesday". [Craig, G.Y., and E.J. Jones, "A Geological Miscellany," Princeton University Press, 1982.]
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cheer (n.)

c. 1200, "the face, countenance," especially as expressing emotion, from Anglo-French chere "the face," Old French chiere "face, countenance, look, expression," from Late Latin cara "face" (source also of Spanish cara), possibly from Greek kara "head," from PIE root *ker- (1) "horn; head." From mid-13c. as "frame of mind, state of feeling, spirit; mood, humor."


By late 14c. the meaning had extended metaphorically to "state or temper of mind as indicated by expression." This could be in a good or bad sense ("The feend ... beguiled her with treacherye, and brought her into a dreerye cheere," "Merline," c. 1500), but a positive sense, "state of gladness or joy" (probably short for good cheer), has predominated since c. 1400.

Meaning "that which makes cheerful or promotes good spirits" is from late 14c. Meaning "shout of encouragement" is first recorded 1720, perhaps nautical slang (compare earlier verbal sense, "to encourage by words or deeds," early 15c.). The antique English greeting what cheer? (mid-15c.) was picked up by Algonquian Indians of southern New England from the Puritans and spread in Indian languages as far as Canada.

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odd (adj.)

c. 1300, odde, "constituting a unit in excess of an even number," from Old Norse oddi "third or additional number," as in odda-maðr "third man, odd man (who gives the casting vote)," odda-tala "odd number." The literal meaning of Old Norse oddi is "point of land, angle" (related via notion of "triangle" to oddr "point of a weapon"); from Proto-Germanic *uzdaz "pointed upward" (source also of Old English ord "point of a weapon, spear, source, beginning," Old Frisian ord "point, place," Dutch oord "place, region," Old High German ort "point, angle," German Ort "place"), from PIE *uzdho- (source also of Lithuanian us-nis "thistle"). None of the other languages, however, shows the Old Norse development from "point" to "third number." Used from late 14c. to indicate a surplus over any given sum.

Sense of "strange, peculiar" first attested 1580s from notion of "odd one out, unpaired one of three" (attested earlier, c. 1400, as "singular" in a positive sense of "renowned, rare, choice"). An odd job "casual, disconnected piece of work" (1728) is so called from notion of "not regular." Odd lot "incomplete or random set" is from 1897. The international order of Odd Fellows began as local social clubs in England, late 18c., with Masonic-type trappings; formally organized 1813 in Manchester, England.

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constructive (adj.)

1670s, "derived by interpretation, not directly expressed but inferred," from French constructif or directly from Medieval Latin constructivus, from Latin construct-, past-participle stem of construere "to heap up," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + struere "to pile up" (from PIE root *stere- "to spread").

Meaning "pertaining to construction" is from 1817; sense of "having the quality of constructing" is from 1841, especially "contributing helpfully." Related: Constructively; constructiveness. Constructive criticism is attested by 1841, originally in theology and philosophy.

Constructive criticism has frequently secured, in various departments of scientific inquiry, positive results, the value of which cannot be over-estimated; but there are not wanting instances in which a destructively critical method has performed services equally as valuable. Groundless hypotheses, unwarrantable theories, and baseless prejudices, required to be swept away, so that a constructive criticism might operate freely and successfully. [The Christian Ambassador, vol. ix, 1871]

It later was extended to education and became personal:

Constructive criticism points out a specific deficiency, and suggests a specific remedy. It is destructive in tearing down the wrong, but constructive in replacing value. Such criticism will afford the teacher the satisfaction of having a definite basis on which to work. [George M. Baker, "Constructive Supervision," in The American School Board Journal, February 1918] 
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